Psychoanalysis and Deconstruction, A Love Story


  • Kelly Oliver Vanderbilt University



Love, Kristeva, Derrida, Narcissism


In The Right to Narcissism: A Case for Im-Possible Self-Love, Pleshette DeArmitt opens the space for an alternative to origin story so popular with political philosophers, namely, the social contract, which assumes a rational and self-identical subject.  She does this obliquely by deconstructing narcissism as love of the self-same, or, love of what Kristeva might call “the clean and proper self.”  Like Echo interrupting Narcissus’s soliloquy of deadly self-absorbed pleasure and his solitary auto-affection upon seeing his own reflection, Pleshette interrupts the seeming proximity of self-same, the closeness of near, and the propinquity of proper by deflecting the image of Narcissus onto the voice of Echo, who comes into her own by repeating his words.  How, asks Pleshette, can Echo’s reiteration of the words of another be anything more than mere repetition or reduplication?  Echoing Derrida, she answers that it is through a declaration of love.  Echo’s repetition of the words of Narcissus take on new meaning, and allow her to express herself, and her love, through the words of the other.  After all words are words of the other.  Language comes to us from the other.  Echo becomes a self, a “little narcissist,” through an address from and to the other, through the appropriation and ex-appropriation of the other’s words.